This post is a mash up of the last few wonderful days that have seen a confirmation in my own mind that my ribs and liver are fully healed, some wood moved, 20.5 miles walked, a delightful afternoon with the children, a choral recital telling powerful stories of true life and hope, a train journey to meet up with family, and a realization born from love.

Friday evening saw a very simple supper of Asparagus Egg Scramble cooked after a long day of travelling, more paperwork and only 2 miles walked.

Saturday saw me do another 2 mile walk and then bent over, hunch backed, a bunch of twigs tucked under my arm, looking much like an agricultural worker from the paintings of the idyllic country scenes of the 19th century working the harvest. It was the cricket club work party to get the pitch ready for the new season. No groundsmen or other such professional folk to enable us to play cricket. Doune Cricket Club is a true cricket club in the heart of the community. The cricket pavilion has been enabled and built by the generosity in treasure, materiel and time by a number of individuals coming together to secure clearance for the build, concrete for the foundations, the wood and fittings for the structure, furniture for the inside and just provide expertise in construction or as in my case a willing mind to learn new skills and apply them in the build of the pavilion. I have never laid concrete before nor built a large pavilion from wood but have had enormous fun learning and doing with the rest of the club and the village. This Saturday however was the mundane task of clearing the larger than finger sized branches and twigs that get blown onto the pitch and can damage the blades of the mower. A mundane task but placed on the wonderful cricket pitch on the Grazings in the shadow of Doune Castle and joined by members of the club and their children suddenly the mundane becomes a pleasure. 3 hours of ground clearing later, as I transferred the huge pile of wood gathered by the team and placed on to a huge central tarpaulin, into neat piles the other side of the fence I realized that with all that bending and standing then lifting of heavy bundles of wood up and over a fence with large abdominal twists that my ribs and liver were now just about perfect. Not even a twinge, even now, I am completely healed. Fantastic! Saturday evening saw me celebrate with the Deliciously Ella Recipe of Pan Con Tomate. Basically cherry tomatoes and garlic heated and served with wholemeal Pasta.

Sunday was an emotional day which saw in the morning after a 2 mile walk a wonderful service in St Modoc’s Doune for Palm Sunday in which three of the congregation read the Passion of Christ. It was beautifully delivered and very moving as a great way to be reminded about some of the darker days and dramatic events that led to the persecution and then crucifixion of Christ. Putting my own troubles in to perspective I walked back to the flat and stopped for a Mocha in the Buttercup Café to take away because I was getting visitors today. Three of them, two of which hold a very special place in my heart. My children were coming to see me so I could wish them a happy Easter and most importantly give them their Easter Eggs symbolising the birth of New Life before I disappeared for a very powerful Choral Recital in Killearn with Allie and then heading South to Penrith to see my new Nephew Archie and go for some walks in the Lake District with my Sister Isla, Brother-in-Law Rob and wee Archie.

Allie came across for the afternoon too before driving the two of us to the recital. So I made lunch. No surprises here. Poached eggs served on toast with watercress, rocket and spinach salad and served with a medley of raw fruit and vegetables – tenderstem broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and red grapes then all four of us went for a lovely walk around the ponds taking in the scouts fire pit, then along the little known ridge before doubling back around the far side of the far pond. I was hoping to see the tufted duck on this pond but sadly they were out for the day but instead Heather, james and I giggled about the memory of the day, a couple of years ago, that I took them for a walk along this particular route while it was under water. I ended up having to ferry them by piggy back from one side to an island in the middle and then from the island to the far side. I had dropped Heather off on the Island and gone to get James. As I did so Heather stood to turn, lost her footing on a root under the water and fell in backside first with a large splash, a shriek and then, once she was used to the cold water the shocked silence from all three of us as I rushed to help her was broken by first hers, then all of our shrieks of laughter!! We hit the steps and pushed on up to the Comonty Walk to take in the views over the village before coming back into the village along the old railway track while taking in the wonderful views of the snow capped Ben Ledi and surrounding mountains of the Trossachs. 3 miles walked and back home it was time for me to cook tea for us all in order to get away in time to get to the recital. So I kept it simple with the Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meal of Arnold Bennett Frittata. Egg, smoked haddock, spring onion, mint, peas, and a dusting of parmesan made this sort of omelette delicious, easy to make, packed full of goodness and great to eat. While I cooked the children were playing on the keyboard together and before tea was ready called us through. They had come up with a Mash Up duet. James playing Elton John’s ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ on the piano while singing it beautifully and at the same time as Heather sang a rap type song that she had written and overlaid James song. I sat and listened, entranced by the beauty of James’ playing, the sweetness of his voice, and the savvy and very clever rhythm of Heather’s vocal that finished with a wonderful harmony between the two of them at exactly the right time. I wasn’t blubbing but it certainly brought a tear or two to my eye as my heart burst with pride and my love for these two wonderful children of mine. I served tea and all four of us ate the Frittata basking in the warm glow such beautiful music and sibling harmony had brought into my flat. Sadly though after a quick wash up and more wonderful tunes coming from the children it was time to give the children their Easter Eggs, Easter Hug and see them off home before driving to Killearn. The Recital was by the Strathendrick Singers who were performing ‘The Armed Man’ A Mass for Peace’ by Karl Jenkins in the Killearn Kirk. It was a very powerful Recital. Beautifully performed by both the choir and the orchestra and whose very words brought many powerful memories of my service and friends lost. For a while I felt, perhaps slightly overwhelmed by the force of the music and my concerns, previously expressed for my children’s future in the face of such potent threats facing mankind right now. Climate change and the very real threat of a misled ideology unchecked. But then I remembered a post I had read earlier that morning in the Voice of Hope written by Dr Micha Jazz:

‘Listening is always the point of entry into the walk of faith. We listen to God in our personal, private space and throughout the world around us. Listen so that we might discern the mystery of each moment. Listen so that we might make a conscious decision to choose mystery over rationalism, Christ over skepticism, hope over despair’. Then I remembered all the wonderful people that I have met and all the extraordinary examples of human good will that I have witnessed during the journey on the challenge and found hope and saw, as the music brightened, a bright future ahead for the children with these perilous threats facing us calmed successfully through the God given gifts of ingenuity through science, forgiveness and compassion enabled by listening. Thank you Phillip for the wonderful gift of those tickets and the beautiful music you performed. Monday saw me on the train to Penrith in order to meet Isla, Rob and Archie. It was a gentle and peaceful journey. No dramas but also sadly nobody met. It was a quiet train and a quiet journey. I was me t at the station and after hugs all round taken to settle into the cottage they had rented for the week. That afternoon I got to spend some wonderful time with Archie and had a sudden realization.

During the world day of prayer I gave a reading in the service at St Modocs. The reading came from the Book of Mark. Chapter 10 and verses 13 to 16 and read as follows: ‘ One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.  I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”  Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.’

As I read it, only 2 days after watching my Godson Jamie engage his imagination, wide eyed and receptive to learning, as he explored the womble houses we stumbled across on Wimbledon Common I thought that this reading meant us to engage with God with your eyes, ears and mind open and receptive to learning. But on spending time getting to know my new Nephew Archie at 2 months old, as my love for this, the newest member of my family grew, so the true meaning of the passage I read dawned on me. 

As he lay on his rug looking at me with his soft blue brown eyes I realised just how fragile he was. How he had to have complete faith in his parents for his very survival. That by relying on his parents entirely, without question, or accusation, but with a mind ripe for learning and receiving, he would find himself fed, clothed, kept warm and with his mind given all the nourishment and love he requires in order to grow into a happy, healthy and productive young man. 

So it was for me that to receive healing and be welcomed into the Kingdom of God I needed to give myself over entirely to God and look to him as wee Archie looks to his parents. I needed to come to God with a complete faith that he will provide for all my needs. That I will be clothed , fed and housed and that by approaching God with eyes, ears and Mind wide open to his will I would receive all I required and the guidance needed to lead a healed, happy, healthy and fulfilling life. I have already been led onto the challenge and brought to a new flat with the means to pay for it when all was looking bleak. I continue to approach the kingdom of God as a child. As wee Archie.

Tuesday saw a wonderful 5.5 miles walked across the Heughscar Hill’s Roman Road in cold conditions but which Archie loved and saw him receive his first Al Fresco bottle feed from Dad half way around the route. On this route I was stopped by a gentleman to take a picture of his wife and he at the new Pooley bridge. They were charming and so I gave them my final flyer with hope that they would want to join me on the journey. When asked by the wife what disease it was I was fighting I replied simply, ‘a Brain Tumour,’ and for the first time ever I met negativity in my journey. ‘I don’t believe a word of it!’ was the wives response and as we were on the wrong side of a narrow and busy replacement bridge this was not the place to try and explain myself. Instead we bade farewell with a smile and as we headed home I reflected with sadness on this first piece of negativity after such a positive day and quietly prayed that, as she drove home and reflected on her response to my approach, that she would become determined to find out a little more about this man she so doubted and on investigation through my facebook page would find the story of a man motivated by a need for his own salvation but also the desire to improve the lives and life chances of so many more. And on finding the truth would find her faith in me and decide to not only sponsor me but help me raise awareness further. I very much hope you do and would love to hear from you should you decide to join my journey. The day finished a short trek up to the aero Force waterfall which provided for quite a spectacle.

Today then saw a further 6 miles walked with a 2 mile walk first thing followed by a fascinating meander around the ruined but being restored Lowther Castle followed by a pre dinner 3 miles around the countryside of Great Strickland, up to Melkinthorpe and back again.

So great times had with happy memories reinforced, hope for the future reinforced, lessons learned from an 8 week old child, many beautiful miles walked in the wonderful company of my sister Isla and brother-in-law Rob, with not the slightest inkling of lingering rib or liver pain or even a seizure and maybe, just maybe my first doubter turned into a follower.

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 129
Total Miles Cycled: 635
Total Miles Walked: 652
Total Miles Run: 44.2
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 23.3
Total Distance Swum: 2,140 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,363.4
Total Height Gained under own steam: 34,679 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 10
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 102metres or 2040kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 6
Press Ups: 380
Pull Ups: 79
Sit Ups: 465
People Met and Hands Shaken: 381
Pots of tea shared: 28
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 1
Pills popped: 664
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 672
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 126 – £6,710.77

Considering I started this challenge 6 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £53.26 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £53.26 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye